Espargaro was launched from his Aprilia at over 100mph (160km/h) in the opening minutes of final practice, while trying the hard rear tyre.

Left in obvious pain, most notably from a heavy impact to his right foot, the Spaniard was carried away on a stretcher before limping to a scooter and heading to the Medical Centre, where fractures were fortunately ruled out by X-rays.

Still limping heavily, Espargaro then returned to the Aprilia pits and bravely took part in qualifying, briefly holding pole position and breaking the previous lap record on his way to sixth.

That should mean Espargaro starts just two places behind title leader Fabio Quartararo, who has a Long Lap penalty to serve in the race.

However, Aprilia state: ‘Aleix’s condition will be assessed in the coming hours because if the pain increases, he may not be able to participate in the race tomorrow’.

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Aleix Espargaro: 'We’ll have to see if it’s possible'

"The crash was the last thing we needed,” said Espargaro, who had been fastest in the previous FP3 session.

“I was feeling good on the bike, pushing hard, and the highside was rather violent. I’m in a lot of pain and it is getting worse, so along with the team and the docs, we decided it would be best for me to rest until tomorrow and then evaluate the situation after the warm-up.

“I’ll obviously do everything I can to be on the track but, since we’re talking about a part of the body that is highly stressed during riding, we’ll have to see if it’s possible."

Espargaro, who took the RS-GP’s first podium at Silverstone one year ago, is currently 21-points behind Quartararo.

Team-mate Maverick Vinales, who has pledged to help Espargaro's title challenge, qualified an Aprilia best of second on the grid behind Ducati’s Johann Zarco.